Financial


Week 7 of our CSA from Harmony Valley Farm (blog).

  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Kohlrabi
  • Spinach
  • Strawberry
  • Red radish
  • White  scallion
  • Garlic scapes
  • Salad mix
  • Napa cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Red Komatsuna

Lots of delicious vegetables again and some sweet strawberries!! Pretty exciting to taste the strawberries as we’ll be picking a lot for ourselves this weekend at the Strawberry Picking Day!!!

We ate a lot of today’s and last week’s veggies on a huge salad and then ate more on top of a pizza. Salad is an obvious way to include some of the “unknown” items into our diet.  Below is a picture of the salad.

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Youth Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, and youth job readiness training.

Why you ask?  They have become a major part of my job.  For the past year I’ve been working on a new program at my middle school.  The short version of the story is that many of our students are constantly needing to raise money  for field trips, athletic fees, and other school-related fees.  We are a pretty mixed income school with a few homeless/highly-mobile youth and a few who are pretty wealthy.  And a bunch that are working and/or middle class.

In 2007 an involved community member/former parent had an idea of students earning money by doing work around the community. When I came to the school in 2008 I was tasked to get the program up and running. The foundation of the program is connecting our students with local residents who need work done around their house.  Yes, there are lots of issues surrounding this idea, but so far it is working! Students shovel, rake, weed, mow, etc for a donation of $5 an hour.  Even if the students don’t completly love the idea of working, their parents do!!

We think it offers a chance for the students to learn some valuable skills and experiences, while also meeting needs in the community. A lot of our customers are elderly residents who like the idea of supporting a local school.  As you can imagine this takes a lot of work – connecting customers and students and on a really busy day I feel more like a dispatcher than anything else!  I enjoy talking with the customers (except the crabby ones) and especially getting to talk with the kids.  Because of the intense amount of time and pressure for this aspect we’ve decided to branch out and create something a little more sustainable.

Thus, entrepreneurship.  The idea is that student create their own small businesses that can help fund their education.  It can be targetted towards other students or the broader community.  We are still in the beginning stages of exploring this opportunity.  During the last year I also realized that many of the students I work with aren’t financially literate.  Few of them have bank accounts or have an understanding of the simplest financial practices.  As a result we are going to start covering some of the basics.

This is a somewhat random post, but I missed church this weekend due to a fundraising dinner for the program I described above.  See, it all connects together!

This always makes me laugh when I see it on my Discover Card statement.

You see… The Hub Bike Co-op is a bike shop here in Minneapolis. I’m not sure why I would ever need flight insurance on my purchases there… but who knows!

Anyway, just wanted to share my laughs with you!

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I can’t say how thankful I am for everyone of you who supported me through the marathon and especially through my fundraising efforts for Team World Vision. It was a humbling honor to run on behalf of my African friends and to share their stories with you over the last months.

It really has been fun to combine two of my passions into such a powerful event. Thank you! I am excited to announce that as of writing this post, we have raised $2,086 for Team World Vision!!! This exceeded the $2,000 goal!! Thank you!!

Below you will find a list of the posts where I shared about my passion for Africa and my experiences there. You can also read all of the posts by clicking on this link. In the order they were published:

That pretty much sums up Team World Vision. I’m not sure when/if they actually close down the fundraising page, but you still have the opportunity to give today. Thank you!!

Team World Vision

Team World Vision is a fund raising arm of the organization which uses ordinary people like me, to get ordinary people like you involved in ending poverty and injustice across the world. I have decided to commit the 26.2 miles of my first marathon to the memory of and in honor of the children I have met during my international travels. I can’t remember all of their names, but I have many pictures and stories.

On the right side of my blog there is a widget that will allow you to support me during this race or you can visit this secure page. I have set a goal of raising $2,000 which will help children have a chance at living to become adults across Africa.

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We’ve had many conversations about how much we as Christians should rely on savings accounts, retirement accounts, and similar investment strategies. Here are two perspectives from Purpose for Everyday Living: Finding God in Everyday Life:

Day 146 – Keeping Prosperity in Perspective

If riches increase, do not set your heart on them. – Pslam 62:10 NKJV

In the demanding world in which we live, financial prosperity can be a good thing, but spiritual prosperity is profoundly more important. Yet our society leads us to believe otherwise. The world glorifies material possessions, personal fame, and physical beauty above all else; these things are totally unimportant to God. God sees the human heart, and that’s what is important to Him.

As you establish your priorities for the coming day, remember this: The world will do everything it can to convince you that “things” are important. The world will tempt you to value fortune above faith and possessions above peace. God, on the other hand, will try to convince you that your relationship with Him is all-important. Trust God.

Have you prayed about your resources lately? Find out how God wants you to use your time and your money. No matter what it costs, forsake all that is not of God. – Kay Arthur

Prosperity is not without many fears and distastes; adversity not without many comforts and hopes. – Francis Bacon

Day 147 – Finding Purpose Through Charity

Happy is the person who thinks about the poor. When trouble comes, the Lord will save him. – Psalms 41:1 NCV

God’s Words commands us to be generous, compassionate servants to those who need our support. As believers, we have been richly blessed by our Creator. We, in turn, are called to share our gifts, our possessions, our testimonies, and our talents.

Concentration camp survivor Corrie ten Boom correctly observed, “The measure of a life is not its duration but its donation.” These words remind us that the quality of our lives is determined not by what we are able to take from others, but instead by what we are able to share with others.

The thread of generosity is woven into the very fabric of Christ’s teaching. If we are to be His disciples, then we, too, must be cheerful, generous, courageous givers. Our Savior expects no less from us. And He deserves no less.

Selfishness is as far from Christianity as darkness is from light. – CH Spurgeon

Did universal charity prevail, earth would be a heaven and hell a fable. – Charles Caleb Colton

These by no means give specific examples of daily living – put back savings or give to the beggar on the street? But they begin to help me understand more about what is expected of me each and every day – to love others and be willing to be generous. Spreading mercy and love as it

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Whether you believe global warming is our biggest issue or a government hoax I think we should all agree that it is a good idea to try and make our life a little more enjoyable by reducing some of the carbon in the atmosphere.

I think some of the liberal elites and more radical conservationists would have us believe that costs a lot of money. That doesn’t always have to be the case. It can be as simple as shutting off the lights when you leave a room!

FiveCentNickel
created a list of twelve ideas that cost very little (or are smart financial decisions) but can make a large impact. I’ve listed my thoughts after each item!

1. Skip a trip. Did you know that forgoing a single international trip just might offset all of the carbon emissions produced by running your car and your home over the course of a year? On top of that, you’ll save a decent chunk of money by sitting tight (unless, of course, it’s a business trip that you’re skipping). That’s an interesting number – we aren’t planning on traveling internationally anytime soon. The last major trip I took included some carbon saving portions such as public transportation and taking the Megabus.

2. Hire someone to seal up your house. Simply sealing leaks around windows and doors and insulating ducts could save you upwards of $100/year and reduce your carbon emissions by at least 1,000 pounds per year. If you’re too lazy to do this yourself, hire someone. We rent, but our landlords pay the gas bill! They actually did get all the windows replaced or sealed or something before we moved in!

3. Work from home. Instead of carpooling or taking mass transit, a much easier and more effective way of reducing your time in transit (and the resulting cost and environmental impact) is to telecommute. While this isn’t always possible (consider blue collar jobs, or those in the service industry) doing this just once a week cuts you commuting costs by 20% straightaway. Moreover, companies like American Express have apparently found that telecommuting actually increases worker productivity. Not everyone can sit in their pajamas all day at home! I take public transit every day to work and we reduced Christy’s commute mileage from 50 – 8 by moving here and we walk to a lot more places.

4. Drive a fuel-efficient car. Spend a bit of extra time picking out a fuel-efficient car and you’ll automatically save a decent chunk of gas money, and pollute considerably less, over the life of your car. Our Honda gets over 30 mpg and sometimes close to 35!!!

5. Use cruise control. With the possible exception of driving in hilly terrain, cruise control is a great way to save gas. Indeed, tests have found that using cruise control can improve mileage by as much as 7%. I’ve seen this myself in real life, as I’m a big fan of cruise control and my wife isn’t. Guess who gets better mileage on long roadtrips? Me. By a long shot. Even better: adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjust speed to keep you at a safe distance from cars around you. Blah, blah, blah… I don’t really buy some of these things. This one might actually work but the whole slow down thing bunk in my opinion. On a recent trip to Indiana when I drove at about 80 I got better mileage than when I drove at 80 and our friends drove at 70 or 75. It is more about where your car runs most efficiently. “Sorry officer, I was trying to improve gas mileage by speeding up!”

6. Cool your water heating bills. Check the temperature on your water heater and, if necessary, lower it to 120 degrees. Beyond this, whenever possible you should wash your clothes in cold instead of hot water. Landlord pays for it and we are all on the same unit.

7. Don’t wash the dishes. While it’s possible to wash your dishes by hand using a relatively small amount of water, most people keep the faucet running while they do this chore. Instead, load up the dishwasher and run it. Assuming that it’s full, you’ll save about 30% of the water that you would’ve otherwise used. Moreover, you should skip the pre-rinse (take that, Mom!) and just let the dishwasher do its thing. We do this now!! But our washer doesn’t get all the gunk off so we still have to pre-wash.

8. Use a laptop, and let it nap. Replacing a desktop computer and display with an energy-efficient laptop, and setting it to go to sleep when not in use, can save a substantial chunk of money — and reduce carbon emissions by as much as 500 pounds per year. That’s an interesting stat.. we both have laptops although her HP doesn’t automatically sleep when you shut the top like mine. I wonder if some brands are better than others…

9. Drink tap water. Why lug bottles of what is essentially tap water home from the store with you when you can just open the spigot and pour a glass? You’ll not only save a ton of money, but you’ll also save the carbon emissions associated with bottling that water and hauling it to its ultimate destination. Do this most of the time! Hope I don’t get cancer or whatever from reusing the bottles.

10. Stay married. Converting one household into two means bigger utility bill and more greenhouse gases. Not to mention mountains of legal bills. A recent study out of Michigan State University estimated that divorced families consumed and extra 73 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity, corresponding to an extra 6,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per household. Yea I was planning on that!! I guess this is another good reason to stay married :)

11. Consider carbon offsets, but be careful. If you’re too lazy to do any of these things yourself, you can always pay someone to offset your emissions for you. Just be sure to work with an entity that actually does what it says. Here’s a nice summary. Nah… that costs money!

12. Support carbon taxes. A variety of experts on both sides of the aisle have argued that imposing a carbon tax on gasoline, coal, and other fuel sources would be the simplest and most efficient way to reduce carbon emissions. In essence, this would be a surcharge that’s based on the amount of carbon dioxide produced by a given amount of fuel. Because this will place yet another burden on businesses and consumers, some have argued that the revenue should then be used to fund income tax cuts or direct rebates. I doubt it would really change anything in the short-term.

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The Dumb Little Man had one of his brilliant moments and created a list of 30 Easy Was to Save Money and he claims we aren’t doing all of them. So I looked through the list and here’s part of what I found:

Things we already do:

  • Cook at home often
  • Brown bag lunch at least a few days a week
  • Make a list before going shopping – you have to actually stick to the list, which we do sometimes!
  • Watch out for expiration dates on perishable goods
  • Consolidate and pay off debt as soon as possible
  • Pay your bills on time and avoid late fees
  • Be aware of your bank balance and avoid over draft fees
  • Avoid ATM fees
  • Avoid credit cards with annual fee
  • Disconnect land line if possible
  • Buy in bulk whenever possible
  • Buy generic products whenever possible
  • If you have to buy books, check if you can buy it used – Amazon!
  • Price check before buying anything expensive
  • Avoid the vending machines
  • Keep your car as long as possible
  • Do regular scheduled maintenance on your vehicles
  • Avoid buying a new car
  • Ride your bike or carpool whenever possible – taking the bus, its free with work!
  • If you like watching movies at the theater, go before 6:00 pm – we do discount theaters
  • Regulate your electric use.

Things we need to work on:

  • Go grocery shopping while you are in a hurry
  • Avoid impulse buying
  • Bottle your own water

Things that won’t happen:

  • Make your own coffee
  • Use grocery store bags to line trash cans
  • Instead of buying books, borrow books from the library
  • If you watch a lot of DVDs, get an online DVD store membership – we don’t watch a lot!
  • Plan vacations ahead of time
  • Finally, keep distance from lavish, high-roller friends – we don’t really have any of these!

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